Saturday, July 18, 2015

Exploring the interior of Alaska

Good day all,

A couple weeks ago, Amie, Guinness, Pitaya, and I went on a trip to the interior of Alaska. We took a ferry from Juneau to Haines, drove to the Kenai peninsula to watch the men’s and women’s Mt Marathon race.

We spent a couple days exploring the kenai peninsula doing some fishing and some minor trail exploring. After we finished that we went back through anchorage and up to Talkeetna to visit the mayor: Stubbs the cat. Amie got to see Stubbs, though he was in meetings so we didn’t have a chance to meet with him.

We then proceeded to find someplace to camp for the evening. After locating a suitable spot, and getting everything set up, Pitaya proceeded to vomit frothy blood. As she had vomited pieces of chicken bone with flecks of blood around lunch, we decided it was best to take her into the vet.

We broke down camp just enough to load it into the truck with Guinness and Pitaya and proceeded to the nearest 24 hour vet, 1.5 hours away in palmer Alaska. After a short exam the vet determined Pitaya was symptomatically ok, and if we treated her as such, it would entail sulcralfate in a slurry solution 3x a day for 7 days, 1 pepcid tablet every morning for the next week. This course of treatment would help ensure any internal lacerations she may have incurred from chicken bone shards would heal.

If she got any worse (stopped eating, showed sensitivity in her abdomen, or vomited more blood) we would need to bring her back and she would likely need surgery.

Fortunately for all she didn’t get any worse, and is now back to normal health and puppy ridiculousness.

The next day we proceeded to Denali national park and spent much of the day enjoying the park and watching a dog sled display. Due to the restrictions preventing motorized vehicles from accessing much of the park, dog sleds are used extensively to navigate the park in the winter. It was pretty interesting to see how excited the dogs got when they realized they were going to get to pull a sled. Lots of howling and running around begging to be chosen for the duties.

After Denali, we had dinner in Fairbanks and continued towards home. Camping just outside of North Pole. On Friday morning we were on the road again, and booked for the Saturday evening ferry from Haines to Juneau.

With 2 more days we were still hoping to find the elusive spot where our tackle and fishing technique (or lack thereof) would catch us some fish and we could enjoy. Thus far we spent at least a little bit of time most every day casting and retrieving at numerous lakes, creeks, and ponds along the route. Though we had hooked 3 or 4 fish between us, we were unable to successfully land anything except a few 4 - 5 inch pike and a couple other 3 - 4 inch trout like fish.

Amie had 1 or 2 fish that were around 10 or 12 inches, though they managed to escape just before being hoisted onto the dock or bank. 

We stopped at one lake to try our luck and where told of another lake which we could hike about 1 mile into and there was a public use canoe. Though we were hopeful as we'd seen numerous fish jumping around places not easily accessible from the banks, at most of our stops, we were tired and not up for 2 miles of hiking. Honestly we may very well have done the walk if we thought there was a good chance of catching fish. Our spirits were just not that high.

While waiting for the pilot car at one of the sections of construction, I was talking to the construction guy and mentioned that we are exploring the interior, doing some fishing. He suggested we try gardiner creek and devils lake. The arctic greyling were biting on most anything, and particularly liked white grubs in gardiner creek.

Our hopes were refreshed and we set of in search of gardiner creek. Taking a small detour down a dead end near Northway Junction to where we thought we would find gardiner creek. No luck, so back on the road. 

Back on the road towards tok and Canada, we came upon gardiner creek. It was easy to access from the road, so we stopped to try our luck.

The creek itself was unimpressive with what at first appeared to be only 50 or so feet of fishable bank. We decided to try our luck.

Within 3 or 4 casts, we had snagged a couple lures on various sticks and twigs. 1 required Amie to go up to the road and cross the bridge before clambering down the bank on the other side to free her lure.

Within a couple casts of that, Amie had a bite, and successfully landed a female arctic greyling, easily identifiable by the large sail like dorsal fin. We were pretty excited, we would have fresh fish. After a few more casts, Amie was going to see if she could access the creek on the other side of the bridge. 

I opted to try a few more casts from here. Before long, i had a fish on and landed a male arctic greyling (the males are larger, and have a much larger dorsal fin). We now had 2 fish and renewed enthusiasm.

We went to the north side of the bridge to try our luck up there. Amie landed 2 more arctic greylings, a male and a female. I continued fishing for a little longer, and had 2 or 3 more bites, but couldn't manage to land them. 

We decided that we had enough fish and should be on the road. We drove into Canada and found a nice lake setting to have dinner and possibly camp.

We pulled off and i started the coals for cooking. Amie purchased a steak for my birthday, so we were going to have steak, peppers and onions, and fresh arctic greyling for a birthday dinner.

During our preparations, Sven, a German currently living in and touring Canada stopped by the lake. We shared our dinner with him and talked a little bit. he was planning to head to barrow. the northernmost city in Alaska. Something Amie and I discussed, but decided to avoid the additional 1,000 miles of driving that would have required.

We were on the road again hoping to make it to a roadside cafe that had frosties before they closed. We made it with 10 minutes to spare, and had reeses peanut butter cup frosties for desert. We found a pull off that we camped at that night.

In the morning we got up and made our way back to the U.S. and into Haines to spend the day before our 5pm ferry departure.

We stopped in the local tackle shop and got some advice. They recommended we try Chilkoot lake and possibly river for some Dolly Varden. We picked up some new bait and hooks and were on our way.

After about 40 minutes of no luck at the lake we headed back towards town. On the drive we saw a man carrying a good size fish along the road, so stopped to fish a bit.

Amie was tired, and opted to read a little while i fished. After 20 minutes or so of working along the shore and catching a couple 3 - 4 inch fish, i hooked into a decent sized Dolly Varden and would add it to our collection of fresh fish.

We hung out in Haines for several hours, let the dogs run around in the park, and got some lunch before heading to the ferry terminal.

After waiting a couple hours to load onto the ferry, we got on, parked, and made our way upstairs for the 4.5 hour trip back to Juneau. After a bit of musical chairs and sandwiches, we were docking in Juneau.

A short drive home and we were once again at home and sleeping in our bed. Everybody, especially Guinness and Pitaya were happy to be home.

Some photos of our adventures, including moose, bear, fish, and some of our camping spots can be found in the photo links below.

Amie’s photos
My photos (Amie took many of these)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

20140905 - Superior 100

My good friend Amie convinced me to return to Minnesota to see one of her favorite places. Maybe convinced is a strong word, she merely asked what would sway me to sign up for Superior 100, that was all it took, I was on board and excited to see the north shore of lake superior.

We were fortunate enough to get there a couple days early, and camp at Gooseberry Falls campground.  Amie had a couple friends that were going to help crew and pace her, I was going to focus on enjoying the trails and experience.  Based on our runs together, it was highly likely we would be pretty close throughout, and I'd be able to reap the benefit of Amie's crew.

I immediately understood Amie's attachment to the area, it is incredible, the rocks, the water, forests and trails, all breath taking.  i will definitely return here and spend some time enjoying it.  For now I will skip to the details of the run.

Friday morning, we awoke, had a good breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt before heading over to the start. At 8am, John (the race director) sent us on our way to enjoy 103 miles of some of the most incredible trail i've had the pleasure of traveling.

Early on I took it very easy, splashing in the puddles left from the previous days rain (to the dismay of several fellow runners).  I was running with or close to numerous runners through much of the first 20 miles.  Though this wasn't ideal, i wasn't interested in pushing things too much too early, and didn't feel like slowing down.

Amie and i passed much of the first 25 miles within a couple minutes of each other, though never really running together.  We did more of the traditional back and forths that occur throughout such a long endeavor.

From Miles 25 through 35 i stopped on several occasions marveling at the views and thinking how it would be awesome to share them, though Amie and my paces had diverged a bit.  At this point nutrition was coming in well for me, my stomach was settled, and I was moving comfortably along, enjoying the views and quiet.

There were several sections that ran along exposed cliffs overlooking lakes and valleys.  I found myself running along the edge of these cliffs, looking down the sheer drop and remember the runs with Victor along sunset cliffs. Victor likes to skirt the edge of the cliffs.  This made me smile and allowed me to relax and enjoy the miles that much more.

At the Tettegouche aid station, Amie rolled in slightly behind me.  I may have been dragging my feet a little getting out.  I asked if she wanted to run together for a bit, and was very happy when she agreed.  I have a slew of excuses for asking, but the bottom line is we were running pretty close together, I enjoy her company very much, and was anxious to have someone to share the views with.  After we restocked our food and hydration, we were off.

I had run out of gels at this point, and asked if Riccardo or Steve had any gels.  Steve handed me 4 hammer gels, i thanked him through a grimace.  Hammer gels have never set well for me.  I would take them with and hope i could get through without needing to eat them.

Riccardo noted it's a long 8.6 to country road 6, and we should take our time so as not to arrive before 6:30, or he wouldn't be able to start pacing us.  We were leaving Tettegouche at around 5:30, so the likelihood of covering even 8 miles of this course in 1 hour was small, even on fresh legs, which neither of us had at this time.

We continued to move well through the early miles of this section.  We would settle into a steady hike on the climbs, take a quick moment to enjoy the incredible views at the tops and jog through the descents and flats.  Nutrition was still going well for me, though i was out of my preferred gels, and the carbopro mix was a bit diluted, making it hard to get enough calories without drinking too much water.

I finally caved, and ate one of the hammer gels.  it was every bid as glorious as i remember them being (a huge amount of sarcasm on this).  I think i ate 2 or 3 of them through this stretch, and would pay dearly for this later on.  Both Amie and I were starting to feel better at this point, and began rolling pretty well along.

Before long we could hear the noise from the aid station, coming from way below us.  We joked about not being too keen on that much descent in that short a time, and hoping the road would come up to meet us.  As we were rolling along the top within 10 steps, both my big toenails caught on my shoes and folded back.  lovely, the good news is i'll have lots of time to remember that.

The road did in fact raise up a bit to meet us, though we wound up making a good descent down to the aid station.  As we got closer, i could see Amie's excitement growing, and feel the pace quickening. I did what i could to stay reasonably close without getting caught up in the excitement.

Both Riccardo and Steve where there to greet us and tend to our needs.  I made a b-line for the drop bags area hoping to find my drop bag and get some proper calories (read carbopro and roctane gels).  After searching for several minutes, I was unable to find my drop bag.  Buggah, fortunately i had some gels and carbopro in my previous drop bag which Steve had taken from Beaver Bay.

I was able to restock my carbopro and get 3 more good gels.  Amie was tending to some blisters, and Riccardo was ready and chomping at the bit to join us for some night running.

We left County Road 6, and again Amie took off, Riccardo was in good spirits, and Amie seemed to be feeling good.  i held on figuring this is probably just a bit of excitement focused around the aid stations and it would fade to a more sustainable pace shortly.  Before too long, I took the lead for a while, and dialed things back to a more leisurely effort.

Riccardo was telling stories about this and that, and we were moving along pretty well.  We discussed our progress, and i commented that we should reach mile 80 around sunrise.  I didn't get much buy in from Amie.

We were moving really well power hiking the technical stuff and climbs, and running the flats and descents pretty well.  Before long dark settled in and we broke out the headlamps.

My stomach was not doing well, those hammer gels were catching up, and started to twist things up in a pretty bad way.  I did what i could to stay with Amie and Riccardo, thankful that they were there.  If i'd been on my own, i would likely have dialed things back to a walk and spent much more time out there.

The course is full of muck crossings. Riccardo was not a big fan.  Amie would call out mud, and you could hear Riccardo stop, searching for the least muddy way to cross the mud hole i presume.  After several of these, I offered to give Riccardo a piggy back ride over the mud.  Fortunately he never took me up on this offer.

Amie and I would trade out the lead regularly.  Darkness had fully settled in, we were slowing a bit, and it was getting chilly.  I had an extra shirt which Amie opted to take advantage of, at least until we got into Finland, and she was able to get her warm clothes from Steve.

After a little longer we turned off the spur trail that would take us to Finland.  I was getting excited, looking forward to real food.  It had been right around 12 hours since i'd had any real food.  As soon as we got into the aid station, i was checking out what they had.

I had a hot dog and some soup.  Grabbed some pickles, and a few snickers for the trail.  Steve wasn't at the aid station.  We got our sustenance, some warm liquids, and pressed on for the next aid station: Sonju.

This stretch would prove to be one of the tougher ones we would experience.  The vast majority of it was walked with frequent pauses due to stomach issues on my part, and some fatigue and unexplained dizziness for Amie.  Riccardo was in good spirits, and kept Amie and I cheerful under the circumstances.

We rolled into Sonju between 12:30 and 12:45, and opted to sit by the fire, get some warm soup and try to recompose ourselves for the next 5 miles into Crosby aid station.  After almost 2 hours, Amie continued to get colder. 

After a bit of back and forthing, Amie agreed that it was best for all 3 of us if She and Riccardo got a ride to the Crosby aid station. I was happy that she was being sensible, and looking forward to being done with the ordeal. At that moment, she looked me in the eyes, and quietly stated: "You're going to finish, right." A smile crept over my face, even at her lowest, she was unwilling to accept defeat, I wasn't getting out that easy.  I nodded and spoke a low "yes, i'm going to finish, you just worry about getting warm and feeling better".

She and Riccardo were taken by car to the Crosby aid station to see if they could get Amie warmed up and sorted out. I set out from Sonju with fresh legs and a heavy heart, an interesting juxtaposition of emotions consumed me through the next 5 miles.  I wanted to run as fast as my legs would carry me to see Amie and Riccardo warming themselves by the fire and know everything was going to be ok.

I pressed the pace pretty good for much of the distance, over some of the most rooted and swampy sections of the course, passing people and trying to remind myself that I still have another 40 miles to cover, it would be light in several hours, and I was better served by saving energy and dialing the pace back.  emotion is no friend of reason, I continued pressing, waiting for the 1/2 mile stretch of road which Amie and Riccardo said would take me into Crosby.

Finally, the path gave way, and I was spat onto the road.  I looked ahead and saw orion laying low on the horizon directly in front of me. Very fitting that one of the constellations which carries so much meaning for me was guiding me into the aid station and hopefully to a much warmed and improved Amie and Riccardo.

I followed the road and orion's lead into the aid station. Upon arriving, I asked if anybody had come in by car from Sonju, and was told of a young woman trying to get warm in the back of a van. I crawled into the back of the van, laid next to her, putting my face in hers, and asked "how are you doing?"
She commented "warming up."
I asked "Are Riccardo and Steve going to get the other car?"
She responded "I don't know a Riccardo"
I apologized, "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else. I hope you continue to warm up and feel better soon, best of luck." and I exited the van, returning to my search for Amie and Riccardo.

I ran into Riccardo getting some warm soup. He said Amie was improving, and sitting by the fire. A wave of relief swept over me, and I went over to talk to Amie. We talked a bit and continued warming ourselves by the fire. I ate and restocked my nutrition and hydration for the coming sections.

I ate and drank and rested a bit at the aid station. It was time to move on, when Steve came by, and we decided it would be good if he ran with me into the next aid station. He just needed to get a few things together, and we'd be off. I wasn't honestly in a big rush to get out of there. I was pretty content talking to Riccardo and Amie and seeing she was doing better.

After an extended wait, I decided I was ready to head out, and told Riccardo and Amie that if Steve wanted to do this section, he could catch up to me, and was off into the darkness. Again, I was feeling pretty fresh, and making good time. This lasted about a mile when I stepped down of a small ledge and rolled my left ankle.

I went down in a heap, I saw stars and blackness (not the night sky or those lovely celestial bodies, but rather images entirely created within my head). I had rolled the same ankle 6 weeks earlier on a section of the ice age trail, and it was bad back then. Since then I re-injured it 2 or 3 times, the most recent of which was about a week before superior.  I lay there in the fetal position for what seemed like several minutes waiting for the pain to subside.

Normally I am able to run off a sprained ankle, within a couple minutes it's as if it never happened. This sprain was different from the very beginning (6 weeks ago). I finally stumbled to my feet and tried taking several steps forward. Oh f' that, this is pretty bad. I contemplated turning around and making it back to the aid station before they left. Not likely, and then I remembered Amie and my agreement back at Sonju.

I started moving forward as best I could, and before long was limping along at a meager jog. Steve caught up to me shortly after this incident, I explained my fall and that I'd be limping along trying to work it out, so things would likely be slow going for a while. We continued like this for quite some time before I noticed the sky was turning that lovely gray which precedes sunrise.

My spirits lifted a bit, and I started to press things more, hoping to reach sugarloaf before sunrise proper and share the experience with Riccardo and Amie as well as Steve. It didn't take long for me to realize that wasn't going to happen. I carried on, moving well when the trail was smooth, and picking my way gingerly when it was rooted and technical. The pain of rolling my ankle fresh in my mind, and nothing I was even remotely interested in revisiting anytime soon.

After what seemed to be an eternity, I rolled into sugarloaf, mile 83, and was greeted by Riccardo. I asked how Amie was doing, got the updates, and tended to my nutrition and hydration, then requested a blister kit (it was time to take care of my toenails, the last 40 miles were wearing heavily on them), and an ace bandage or something to give my ankle some more support.

After sorting through this, I headed over to the car to talk to Amie for a bit, and get Steve's ankle brace to provide some support. I sat in the car with Amie went over how she was feeling and how I was doing, put the ankle brace on, and had some pudding. Despite this being her first go at 100, Amie is much more logistically solid than my cowboy approach to these things. I will have to sit down and see if she will be so kind as to help me plan out my next one (if there is another in my future).

After getting the ankle brace situated and enjoying the pudding, I was on my way again. Heading for the next aid, Cramer.  This section went fairly smoothly, my pace was still decent, though it slowed a bit, I was still pressing forward. This section was fairly uneventful, and I was hurting pretty good.

I was also getting tired of drinking water, it wasn't quenching my thirst, and I was in need of something with flavor. Amie to the rescue, she had some pink tailwind mix, which I grabbed several packets of, and mixed them in her handheld amphipod, which i'd carry for the remainder of the run and sip on tailwind from said amphipod. A bit sweet, but a welcome change at this point

I rolled into Cramer, and learned Riccardo would be dragging me to the finish, unless I got sick of him before we reached Caribou Highlands Ranch. I smiled and commented it might be him that is sick of the slog long before we reach the finish. Again I got updates on Amie, continuing to improve. Cramer and Temperance were the only 2 aid stations I did not see Amie at, and I was a bit sad about that.

Before long, Riccardo and I were off again, making our way towards temperance at as solid a pace as I could muster. We moved pretty slowly into temperance, my ankle was doing better. At temperance, I sat down and ate any and all real food I could find as well as drinking a couple cups of water while Riccardo was attempting to fill my hydration pack with the last of my carbopro and water. This was quite an ordeal as the plastic slider which seals the bladder was super sticky and jammed from all the carbopro.

After several minutes we were on our way again. The section between temperance and sawbill was much more runnable, pretty smooth trail for the first several miles and we made good time. I stopped and took off the ankle brace, as it was starting to get very annoying, and I was feeling more stable.

After a little bit of gradual climbing, there was this thing. a roughly 500' foot climb with some sections that were like low grade bouldering (remember my perception may be skewed by being awake for some 26 hours at this point).

I pressed this climb pretty hard (a solid power hike punctuated by running on some of the flatter sections). As we came over the top, there was a group of rock climbers who were kind enough to point us in the right direction and commented that it was pretty fast once we got to the base of the hill.

I gingerly picked my way to the base of the hill. At that point I was feeling pretty spent, and we plodded along between a walk and a slow jog. Nutrition wasn't coming in too well, and I wasn't too ambitious. It's that funny section of course were it's too far from the finish to be excited about and too long into things to have much motivation. That funny in between spot.

After a little while we came to a road crossing, and were promised the aid would be coming up pretty soon. I got a bit of a boost from this, and mustered a pretty pitiful jog into the aid station. I was pleasantly surprised by Amie welcoming us in.

Riccardo took my pack and was handling the restocking of gels and nutrition. Amie had a chicken sandwich, some beef jerky bits and dried apricots and a Gatorade. All of which sounded pretty fantastic. I ate most of the sandwich, several beef jerky bits, and some apricots as well as drinking some Gatorade. I continued on the tailwind regiment and Riccardo and I left for the next 5.5 miles to Oberg aid station.

This was a pretty bad section, lots of walking, and lots of people going by me. I struggled through, Riccardo kept up the motivation and tried his best to keep me moving. I guess all the food was sitting a bit heavy in my stomach, and I just didn't have much ambition right now. This slump lasted for 2 - 3 miles. During which I tried to jog on several occasions, but never really mustered anything.

In the final couple miles of this section, I decided it was time to put this thing to bed, and started running as best I could. I figured i'd keep moving, start pushing in simple nutrition, gels, carbopro, and tailwind. This was working, I started to feel better, and we started moving along better, passing people again.

On the climb up to Oberg mountain, we gained several places. As the descent started, I was feeling pretty good, and moving along pretty well, allowing gravity to pull me down. It was a very runnable grade, not to steep, and not to shallow, so I went with it.

My brain started working, and I was strategizing how to break out of this group we had been consumed by. "All right Riccardo, what do you have in line of nutrition, cliff blocks and tailwind in particular?" he had 1 pack of tailwind, and 1/2 a pack of blackcherry cliffblocks. "Awesome, here is what we are going to do at Oberg. When we get close, you take the amphipod, fill it with water, ice, and tailwind, give me the 1/2 pack of blocks, i'm going to drop my pack with Amie, and we are going to blow right through the aid and press the last 7 miles to the finish".

Solid, 1 bit of descent and 1 good climb right out of the Oberg, then we would be pretty well done with things. We blew through the aid, thanking Amie briefly and promising to see her at the finish.

The descent went well, again very runnable, so we put more time into people, and were passing 50 mile and marathon participants at this point.  This continued through the climb up moose mountain. I pressed this very hard, power hiking solidly all the way up. The descent off moose mountain took about as long as the climb up it. my feet were pretty thrashed at this point, the toenail situation hurt.

As the descent leveled off we ran a bit and I was getting excited about being done with this and being able to sit down and really see how Amie was doing.

I suspect she was doing worse than she let on in order to keep me from worrying. I know she was solid as a crew, despite her situation, I would never have know she had any issues had I not been there with her. She is that tough a person.

I pressed through this section, and up another climb, pretty similar to that up moose mountain, though this time, it was up mystery mountain. this is were course knowledge is handy. Had I known about this climb I may have gone up moose mountain a bit slower. This one broke me, and I walked a good bit, and continued walking and slowly jogging the descent off mystery mountain.

After quite a drawn out bit, we were dumped onto ski hill, Riccardo commented that we were pretty close at this point, and I mustered a bit of a run down ski hill and onto the final stretch of road that would bring us into the finish, and back to Amie.

almost 35 hours in the making, this is one of the toughest courses I've been on, very technical. This is also the only course I've been on and never once wondered why I was out here. I was too busy enjoying the views and the experience. Riccardo and Steve were a solid crew, providing me support early on when they weren't helping Amie, and really stepping up to the plate after Amie dropped.

Amie was incredible, I truly enjoyed the sections we spent together, and was incredibly sad and concerned during our time at Sonju, and honestly through the remainder of the run, about her. She is a super good and incredibly stubborn and driven individual. At no time did she seriously give though to dropping, not even at her lowest point in Sonju. The only reason she agreed to drop was for the best interest of the 3 of us. After discussing how f'd we would all be if she couldn't keep warm on the stretch to Crosby, she agreed to stop.

Even after stopping, she never left the run, she rallied and took on the responsibility of making sure I had everything I needed to carry on. Never has someone so reminded me of the plight of a moth drawn to the beauty of the fire with no regard for her own well being. I hope to find that level of desire someday, and even more so hope to be able to balance it with the same level of logic Amie showed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

20140803 Week in review

Monday: la jolla shores - an easy splash around the shores hoping to see some leopard sharks or soup fins, or something.  alas the water was warm, the beach crowded.  after 20 minutes or so in the water, I had more than my fill of crowds, and opted to abort the search for interesting sea creatures.

Tuesday: black mountain carmel mountain loop (5.7 miles 1:01):  a painful and slow day, after 4 miles things started to loosen up. Though it never felt physically good, it was emotionally satisfying to be out for the sunrise.

Wednesday: mission trails over south fortuna (6 miles 1:09).  similar to yesterdays outing, except with a good bit of climbing and on dirt.  I ran across a young rattlesnake that wasn't at all pleased with my intruding on his home.  As I approached, he began rattling and started to curl, though opted instead to slide off into the bushes.

as I started to follow the snake into the growth off the trail, I was impressed with how well it blended with the surroundings.  I had absolutely no idea where the snake was.  At that moment I figured it was best if I removed my self from the overgrowth and got back on the trail before anything else.

I carried on up and over south fortuna, enjoying the sunset from the top before continuing along the route and back to the car. 

things felt a lot better today, and I was moving somewhat normal for the last mile or so.

Thursday: Carmel valley ride (25.6 miles 1:37) - its been some time since I was on a bike.  It was fun to get out and explore a bit.  early on I felt very mechanical and a lack of coordination, this passed after several miles, and I was reminded how much I enjoy being out on the bike.  I will have to dust off the bikes once I get back to Juneau and make some time to do a bit of exploring.

Friday: penasquitos from the west (5.3 miles 0:56).  Another easy day on the trails.  just enjoying being back out and trying to get back into some form of routine.

Saturday: santee lakes (4.25 miles 0:35).  a fun flat little jaunt around santee lakes.

the strand (15 miles 2:02).  I decided it's time to start putting in some longer runs so opted to head out for another jaunt.  initially I was going run about 90 minutes, but was feeling pretty good at the 1 hour mark, so opted to stretch it out a bit while I had some motivation and time.

It was a bit of an effort to keep going, as I was running down the strand, a paved bike/pedestrian path with a fair bit of traffic.  when it was all said and done, it was nice to have some decent miles (though primarily flat) under my belt and get going on the day.

Sunday:  swim - more time in search of interesting sea creatures.  only today was an earlier morning outing with good friends.  we swam from the shores out to the 1/2 mile buoy then over to the caves for a little gawking at sea lions and garibaldi. 

as to be expected, there were numerous garibaldi around the cave entrance.  once in the caves, there were 4 or 5 sealions or perched up on several of the rocks around.  we hung out in there for a bit watching them and trying not to disturb them too much.  after several minutes, they had enough of us and 1 of the sealions started barking and making a bit of a ruckus.

we decided it was time to head out and work our way back in to shore.  it would have been nice to see some sharks, or rays, but today wasn't my day.  perhaps next time i'm in town i'll have the fortune of swimming with some of them and seeing them.

Retrospective:  my ambition is slowly returning.  I am excited to get back to Juneau and spend some hours out in the mountains.  i'm kicking around the idea of doing some more longer stuff come September, more for an opportunity to see new places than to race.  i'm still not feeling that much of an itch for racing yet.  as such i'll continue exploring and enjoying.  if things line up, perhaps i'll do a bit of racing, until then it will all be low key and picking things up as they come along.


Total Time:          7:22 
Running Time:    5:45
Distance:              61.96 miles
TSS:                     494
Climbing              4074'

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Voyageur 50 mile run

It's been a roller coaster of a summer, lots of new and exciting things, some very difficult and low points.  I had the good fortune of spending almost 10 days in Minnesota and Wisconsin with Amie and running the Voyageur 50 mile trail ultra.  During my time on the course, i did a bit of reflecting over the past few months.

When i first signed up for the run, i knew i wasn't in any kind of condition to do well for 50 miles, what i did not realize was just how ill prepared i actually was.  Friday afternoon, Amie and I packed up her car and headed north.

Saturday morning rolled around after a particularly poor night of sleep (I'd call it a series of very short naps before i'd call it sleep).  Amie and i finally gave up on feigning sleep and headed towards Carlton high school for preparations and the start.  We had some oatmeal and prepped our nutrition for the day.

I'd be trying out a water bottle filled with roughly 2500 calories of diluted peanut and almond butter (about 12 oz of nut butter and 12 oz of water).  It seemed to mix all right, and tasted ok, though a bit thick, at least walking over to the start.

The run began in a pretty standard fashion.  way too many people crowded together loping down the street.  We soon turned onto a bike path and after about 0.5 miles were onto trail.  The typical single file procession started.

I did what i could to exercise some patience and sit back early.  While crossing a muddy section, my shoe got stuck in the mud and pulled off.  After fishing it out of the mud and putting it back on, i rejoined the procession.  I grabbed a cup of water at the first aid station and carried on.

Things were moving pretty well at the time, Amie began pulling away and before long had disappeared off into the distance only to be seen briefly several hours later on her way back from the turn around.  I continued to move slowly forward, hoping to conserve some energy and ambition for the return trip.

The aid stations were all fairly close, i believe the longest distance between aid stations was just under 4 miles.  This would turn out to be key on my return trip.  After the 2nd aid station, i realized i hadn't taken in any calories, and that i would need to before long.  I took a pull of my nut butter concoction.   mmmm, this might not work as well in reality as it seemed it would on paper:  it was a bit thick and well, like peanut/almond butter.  fortunately i had a small flask of water with which i was able to rinse my mouth a bit.  Maybe i just need to dilute it more.  I took a couple more pulls before the 3rd aid station, and added more water at the 3rd aid station.

The mixture was still too thick.  Not to worry i'd pour a bit out and dilute it some more in 3 miles. This turned out to be too thick still, so i dumped the entire contents, and resorted to getting calories at the aid stations.  I grabbed some pickles, slim jims, and a handful of potatoes and carried on my way.

there was some pretty fun single track sections, and some long drawn out paved sections (both road and bike path).  I decided to enjoy what i could and continue moving as consistently as i could throughout the day.  A couple aid stations before the turn around, i began to lose interest and motivation.  by mile 18 I was contemplating dropping and getting a ride back to the high school.  what point is there to this endeavor: continue slogging along for 10 hours +/- and wind up back where i started.  My legs were fading.

At the turn around, i grabbed some berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, nuts, a couple gels, and refilled my water bottle and started the short climb up and back towards the start.  There was a huge mental shift at that moment, i decided i was going to do what i could and move as consistently as i could, jogging whenever i could and otherwise doing what i could to stay moving.

The day was warming up by now, and i was feeling the heat.  There were 4 or 5 creek crossings, each of which i stopped at and completely submerged myself for several minutes to cool down.  It worked, i was definitely moving better right after each of the immersions, and felt things slow as i dried off and the evaporative cooling slowed.

with about 20 miles left, i started on the coke, taking 1 - 2 cups at each aid station with potatoes and any other calories i could swallow.  i filled my water bottle with coke and would use that to keep the calories flowing between aid stations.  I continued this for the next 3 hours.  In total, i consumed nearly 1 gallon of coke that day, probably more than i've consumed in the last decade, maybe 2.

About 4 miles from the finish, there is an intersection in the course, with a 1 mile loop to the right, and the finish line to the left.  As i approached this section, i was contemplating going right at the intersection and cutting out 1 mile.  really what is the point of dragging this out?  i'm clearly not prepared for 50 miles.

than again, what is the point of cutting out that 1 mile?  is 49 miles really that much easier than 50?  the entire thing is pretty contrived, and that's what i signed up for, so right i went, around the 1 mile loop before heading towards the finish line.

another 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile along the river and through the final aid station and then back onto some fun technical single track, though i didn't have much in me to enjoy it.  i was happy to be closing in on the end, and content with a decent day out.

I was not physically ready for the day.  Mentally it took me sometime to sort through things, and once i finally did, i was able to press things where i would normally have sat back and walked.  In the days since the run, i've made a couple attempts to get back out and run a bit.

i definitely have some fatigue left in my legs and a good bit of tightness.  today (wendesday), after 4 miles, things finally started to loosen up, and i felt as though i could move fairly well (at least on the descents and flats).  I feel a bit of the spark coming back.

It yet remains to be seen where that spark goes.  for now, i'm going to continue to enjoy being outside and following my inner child.

RETROSPECTIVE: upon reflecting on the days events and thinking back, i wondered how prepared i was on paper, so decided to review things since early may.  Here is what i found:  i ran a 50 miler on may 3rd, and since then, haven't run more than 40 miles in a single week, until the week of voyageur.  definitely not a recipe for success.  On average, i have run 30 miles a week since may, though my consistency has been lacking.

Week Ending Activities Total Distance Total Time Elevation Gain Avg Speed

 04/28/2014 5 67.03 12:44:19 7,196 5.3
 05/05/2014 8 35.22 5:36:15 3,098 6.3
 05/12/2014 2 11.65 2:03:23 1,218 5.7
 05/19/2014 4 23.91 4:54:06 4,272 4.9
 05/26/2014 6 39.69 6:33:40 2,721 6.1
 06/02/2014 5 32.28 6:00:34 4,597 5.4
 06/09/2014 2 9.39 1:39:06 703 5.7
 06/16/2014 2 11.62 1:44:30 815 6.7
 06/23/2014 2 16.77 8:06:12 6,628 2.1
 06/30/2014 3 33 9:30:00 -- 3.7
 07/07/2014 3 36.37 8:19:33 8,002 4.4
 07/14/2014 2 7.75 1:20:50 1,448 5.8
 07/21/2014 3 64.64 12:10:13 4,465 5.3
 Summary 47 389.32 80:42:41 13,915

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp

After attending Geoff Roes Alaksa Mountain Ultrarunning Camp the previous 2 years and having a difficult time leaving Juneau after each visit, I decided it was time for some changes. 

A few days before I was to leave Leadville, I said goodbye to the best friend I've ever known: Sirius.  We spent just shy of 11 years together.  He was always there for me, and nearly always super happy to see me (he could be spiteful, though it took a lot to push him that far, I managed on several occasions, and deserved every bit of the attitude he mustered during those times).  I have a plethora of incredible memories, and will cherish them.  It was with a heavy heart I said goodbye, and it still weighs on me.  Fortunately this sadness is quickly chased away by the memories of all the good times we shared.

having said goodbye, I set to work finishing up the remodeling project and packing my things.  The last 3 nights were pretty lonely without the clicking of his nails as he wandered from one room to the next, and I was all to happy to leave early Saturday morning.  I was off to san diego for a week of work, then to Juneau for another edition of Geoff's camp, after which I would settle in to Juneau for the next year.

on the ferry ride into Juneau, I received a text from Geoff inviting me to dinner, unfortunately the ferry wouldn't arrive in time to join them for dinner.  Geoff and Corle were kind enough to share some left overs when I arrived at the mendenhall campgrounds.  We chatted for a bit before retiring to the tents.

Day 0
The next morning Geoff and I picked up Amie at the airport, she spent the previous night in the mediation room at the seattle airport, apparently a popular place, and for good reason.  We then went and picked up Jim (he had been at Geoff's camp a week earlier, and decided to stay for another edition).

Jen and Kevin would arrive a bit later in the day, after which we grabbed a quick lunch and headed over to the mendenhall glacier in search of the ice caves.  It was a great start to camp, some fun explorations:  clambering around the glacier and exploring a couple ice caves we were fortunate enough to find:

Melanie (she was at Geoff's camp in august of 2013 with Jen and myself) was scheduled to arrive a little after 9pm that evening.  Between the ice caves and Melanie's arrival, the rest of us hung out at camp chatting about the coming adventures, and the ice caves.

Day 1
When I woke the following morning, I was pleased to find Amie up as well.  we made a small fire and enjoyed the stillness of the early hours before the others began to stir.

When the rest of the group had emerged from the tents, we started laying out the requisite supplies for our planned 4 days and 3 nights in the mountains.  divvying up the food and shared items and cramming everything into our packs.  The merits of external pockets and stretchable material was quickly noted, and very appreciated by all fortunate enough to have a pack so equipped.  Everyone's pack was thoroughly stuffed.

We loaded up our packs and headed to the breeze in for one last lunch (the best burrito in town). Juneau is a bit peculiar, the breeze in (a gas station) has the best burrito in town, the hardware store has camping supplies, and I'm sure there are a number of other oddities i'll discover over the next 12 months.  Burritos in hand we headed over to a park for our parting lunch.

After lunch we headed to the basin road trailhead for Roberts, and Amie, Corle, Jim, Kevin, and Melanie started up. Geoff and I were to shuttle my truck around to the blackerby ridge trailhead where we were scheduled to drop down in 4 days.

We started the hike up Roberts, hoping to catch up with the group by goldridge.  it became evident that our fast packing wasn't very fast with the amount of weight we were carrying, especially on the climbs.  We took solace in the fact that with each meal and passing day our packs would grow lighter, and we would have the good fortune of being able to send any unneeded supplies down with Corle tomorrow.

Just as we were getting up to goldridge, Geoff and I caught up with Jen.  Everybody was settled in for a bit of a snack and taking in the views:

Melanie, Jim, Geoff, Amie, and Jen 

We clambered along the ridge, over Robert's, Gastineau, Sheep, and Clark, regrouping periodically to eat, and revisit what happened over the previous segment.  Apparently Kevin had a bid of an undoin when he went down during one of the glissades, sending most of his pack contents across the snowfield, the thermarest borrowed from Geoff would spend the next 5 or 6 nights somewhere between sheep and clark's before being rescued by one of the locals. 

After descending off sheep, it was becoming obvious the miles were wearing on people, Geoff started to push the pace a little bit, anxious to find a suitable camp site (one large enough to accommodate 4 mountain hardware supermegaUL 2 (quite a nice little tent, though as tent's go, it's the only one I've used in the last 20 years, and the only one I've backpacked with).

We found a suitable spot on the backside overlooking a river some distance below.  It was starting to rain lightly.  A quick meal and a short bit of revisiting the days events and we were off to bed.  I had the privilege of sharing a tent with Amie (a super cool and very adventurous lass living in Minnesota)  Us being tent mates would turn out to be very fitting as we are both early to wake and quick to get moving on the day. 

Day 2
Both Amie and I were up pretty early the first morning, and gathered some water and got started on breakfast.  As the first pot of water was coming to a boil (or at least as close an approximation thereof we would see for much of the trip), I knocked it over spilling most of the contents.  bummer, we started another pot, and before long were eating some re-hydrated eggs and enjoying warm liquieds. 

After a little while others began emerging, and we continued cooking.  Amie too knocked over one of the near boiling pots, only she somehow managed to spill virtually none of the water. I attribute this to her being a more experienced camper than I.  Shortly after finishing breakfast, we broke camp, and made our way towards olds, one of the two big ascents we would do on the day (observation to come later on)

We made good time over olds, encountering 1 pretty interesting section that required a little creative route making on our part.  Made especially adventurous by the fact that each of us had some 20 pounds or so of gear on our backs.  After summiting Olds and enjoying a fun buit of glissading we ran into Bryan and his buddy coming up to Observation.  Geoff and Bryan discussed the approach to observation, and how western states was unfolding before we continued on and began ascending. 

The clouds were coming up pretty quickly, and about 300' below the summit we were enveloped.  They would pass as we approached the summit, and provide some incredible views, as well as a good chance for Geoff to check on western states, Kevin to check on the world cup, and a group photo:

myself, Jen, Melanie, Amie, Geoff, Jim, Kevin atop Observation

After another fun little glissade and crossing of the snowfield between observation and camp 17, we followed the ridge up to vesper peak and set up camp.  This was to be our home for the next 2 nights, allowing for a fun little excursion the following day with only what you needed for a 6 hour outing.

We setup camp, while Melanie, Jen, and Jim backtracked to restock our water levels.  After taking stock of the fuel and our remaining meals it was decided the lavish behavior of last nights dinner and this mornings breakfast was not going to work, we were on fuel rations in order to have warm meals the remainder of the trip.  Amie proved to be very diligent with her fuel allowances, ensuring we had enough the final morning for a luxurious round of warm breakfast and multiple servings of semi hot liquids.  Though there was a bit of grumbling about the stinginess early on.

Day 3
Today was to be our day with minimal gear, just what you needed to enjoy 5 - 6 hours out in the mountains.  again, Amie, and I were up early, and began preparing breakfast, Geoff and Jim followed by Kevin, and in time Jen and Melanie joined us for morning rations - tepid oatmeal, and a few lucky ones got tepid drinks too.

No amount of pleading would get you additional fuel cubes.  If you are going to be in a life or death situation with limited supplies, Amie is the person you want in charge of distributing stuff.  Where I am perfectly willing and all to happy to give you what you ask for, there are consequences, you are an adult, if you want to use 2 of your 3 remaining fuel cubes tonight, and only have 1 left for the last 2 days, go for it. Amie on the other hand will not budge, if it's over the allotted amount, you cannot have it.  wait for the next round of distributions.

we all had some good laughs about this, especially on the final morning when the hot liquids were flowing freely:)

enough of that, today we were off for nugget peak, a fun little day outing.  we started with a fun little descent and proceeded to cross lemon creek glacier???  climb up to a ridge which we followed briefly before side hilling around and over some more snowfields overlooking the Juneau ice fields and former home to some dog sledding outfits. 

There was a good bit of cloud cover which forced Geoff to navigate using some top maps on his iPhone (making for an interesting excursion).  at the base of the climb up to nugget peak, we regrouped, discussed our options, and chose to stay with the exposed rock as long as we could comfortably walk up it.  several hundred feet from the peak, to our left dropped off precipitously, and our current route promised for a steep ascent in pretty limited visibility, so we opted to skirt around to the right and try our approach from that direction.

we trudged through snow for a good bit, climbing up and skirting around for a better approach.  within about 100 vertical feet of the summit, things proceeded to get steep, and a bit more precarious.  As we were wrapping around and pressing up, I looked off to our right and saw the edge of snow, to our left was a steep section that funneled down and leveled out pretty quickly.  with each step, I was starting to push mini snow slides down to our left.  Geoff paused, and I asked what was to our right.  he pulled out his iPhone and scrolled around briefly before replying about 1000' drop. 

sold, I was quite ok being within 50 ish vertical feet of the summit and calling it good, I voted to turn around, though I was happy to wait for Geoff to summit and come back down if that was his wish.  He chuckled a bit and said it was a bit more sketchy as it continued up, so was going to save the summit for another day.  We all turned around and began back tracking.  Enjoying the lightness there was a good bit of running going on.

On the return trip we opted to descent down and climb up lemon creek glacier, avoiding the sidehill.  On the way down to the glacier, Jim took a good tumble, scraping his knee and hand pretty good and landing on his chin/jaw.  after a quick cleaning and bandaging of his hand we were on our way again.  The trek up the glacier passed quickly, and before long we were heading back across lemon glacier towards vesper peak.

After a long and tired climb up, we were back at camp with the promise of luke warm dehydrated meals, Melanie and I set off to fill our water supplies.  again we had dinner and enjoyed recounting the days events before heading off to sleep.

it rained pretty well through the night, making for a very chilly and restless sleep.

Day 4
We woke to more rain, and the promise of real food for lunch.  Again, Amie and I were up and had our breakfast before the rest of camp began to stir.  we prepared breakfast and enjoyed our final warm meal and liquids.  thanks to Amie's steadfastness there was plenty of warm liquid to go around, 3 and even 4 rounds of warm drinks for those interested, and all the re-hydrated scrambled eggs any of us cared for and more.

we wrapped up breakfast and broke down camp.  It was chilly, largely due to the cloud cover and drizzle that was coming down.  after the last of the tents was packed up, and the final bits of remaining food and fuel (yes we had 1 fuel cube to spare, Kudos to Amie for exceeding expectations, though in reality, i'm not sure anybody would have been too disappointed if there were only enough fuel cubes to heat up 1 pot of water for warm drinks on the final morning:)

we headed down, through camp 17, over cairns peak and along blackerby ridge.  Things got a bit strung out as the past 4 days were wearing more heavily on some than others.  Everybody was in good spirits, we just proceeded at varying paces on the descent.

Upon reaching the final meadow before the descent got really technical and steep, Geoff spoke with Corle, and agreed to meet her at the bottom of blackerby in 20 minutes to be shuttled off to get his car.  Geoff took off, and the rest of us proceeded to follow as fast as our technical abilities (or rather lack there-of on such terrain) would allow.  The last of us popped out at the trailhead as Geoff was pulling up.

Each of us stripped out of the clothes we'd been traveling in for the better part of 4 days, and piled them in a trash bag, donning new "clean" clothes for our trip to the Laundromat and the sandpiper for a hot meal.

we gathered at the sandpiper, sat down, picked out our orders, and recounted the past 4 days.  Chatting until the food arrived, at which time, it grew quite other than the sound of utensils against plates, and that o so faint sound of one (or 8) thoroughly enjoying their meal.

I'll save the remaining adventures for my next post.  and will leave you with some pictures from the first 2 days of our fastpack adventure: 

My Photos
Photos from Melanie

Friday, July 11, 2014

20140711 - Catching up

It's been sometime since I put anything up.  I've thought about writing on several occasions, unfortunately it just hasn't been a priority.  It's been a busy couple months, lots of new things and big changes since Collegiate peaks, though not a lot of running.  the good news is I've been turning that around and have spend a good part of the last 2 weeks out in the mountains enjoying fresh air, incredible views, and time with some truly good people.

Since finishing collegiate peaks in early may, it's been a lot of shorter runs and really buckling down and focusing my energies on finishing up the house in Leadville so I can cleanly move onto my next venture:  exploring the mountains around Juneau.

Randy came out to Leadville to work on the house for 1 week.  we were able to get a huge amount completed in that time:  new granite tile counters, touch up paint, replace the front door, and install several new light fixtures.  Once Randy left, I took a short break from house work and spent sometime exploring the trails as they were starting to thaw out and the weather was pretty incredible.

I did several runs with Jamie and Mike on some trails i'd never been on before, attended several dinners and bbq's with Mike and Stephanie.  The irony doesn't escape me:  here I am in the last few weeks of my stay in Leadville, preparing to leave because I wasn't able to get out and be very social, and over my final 3 - 4 weeks in Leadville, I'm spending more time running with others and attending get togethers than I did the during the first year in Leadville.

The good news is I have some good connections, and expect to stay in touch with them for some time.

The most difficult part of this time was watching Sirius' health continue to deteriorate.  Over the course of a few weeks we went from walking a couple miles a day to barely walking a couple hundred feet at a time.  I've dedicated more to this in a separate post, which you can read through if so desired.

Over the course of 1 week, I was able to finish the mountain room floor, hang the last of the baseboard and door casings, repair the laundry room floor, tile and grout it, tile and grout the sunken living room, and paint the sunken living room.

The last 2 days I had some additional help from a couple of Mike's friends that were in town visiting, and looking for something to pass the time.  With their help I finished painting the closets, the laundry room, and caulk the baseboard, door casings, and bathtub, as well as construct a cover for the buried gas canister in the back yard.

With all this wrapped up, I had one final dinner with Stephanie, Mike and his friends.  They came by and helped me load up my truck.  I spent one final night in the house before heading to san diego.

I spent the next week in san diego, mainly working, and was able to squeeze in some time catching up with family and friends before heading north.  I did get in a handful of shorter runs, though nothing to long.  Probably a good thing, as my body was a bit tired.

I headed north from san diego, making a couple day stop outside fresno to hang out at spurlarosa ranch and spend some time with more family.  after a couple days on the ranch looking for hogs and enjoying a mellow weekend, I proceeded heading towards the Canadian border.

I left sunday evening, and reached the Canadian border around noon on Monday, after a bit of an ordeal getting things sorted out I was able to cross into Canada and begin working my way east so I could finally go west towards Alaska.

I spent the better part of Monday and Tuesday driving across Canada before crossing back into the US and entering Skagway.  I spent Tuesday night in Skagway and was on the 3pm ferry to Juneau (a 6 hour trip).  I took this opportunity to catch up on some sleep and relax in general.

Upon disembarking from the ferry, it was off to the mendenhall campground to meet up with Geoff and Corle.  They had some left over Thai food from dinner which I happily accepted.  We chatted for a bit before it was off to bed.

Sirius Dog thank you

It was a long and wonderful journey, i'm incredibly grateful and a better person for the time we shared.

we spent almost 11 years together.  Though i'm not ready to say goodbye, I know it's time.  I've asked a lot of you, and you've done far more than was reasonable to expect.

I hope I've been able to bring you as much joy as you've brought me.  I sometimes worry that I've been too short tempered with you (I know I had several occasions, for which i'm sorry) and thank you for being pure enough at heart to forgive my shortcomings.

I hope you enjoyed our time together and feel you had a good life. 

I apologize for the ridiculous temperatures you had to endure while in el cajon.

I often think of our mexico and other desert trips looking back with great happiness remembering you wandering around Bahia los angeles, laguna hanson, ocotillo, and many others.

In hind sight, I don't think you enjoyed much of the driving, for that I am sorry, I was led to believe "dogs love trucks"

I am grateful that you were always eager to get in the truck and embark on our next adventure.

I apologize for not stopping more frequently, I get too caught up in the destination and lose sight of the journey.  though it's a bit late to benefit you, it will be a great way for me to remember you and all the love we shared.

it brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes every time i remember your first visit to snow.  again, another long road trip, we drove to flagstaff and i actually made time to stop to just enjoy the quiet.  i remember you jumping out of the bed of the truck and being super excited to discover this incredible substance which offered welcome relief from the sweltering temps of southerm California

i learned so many things along our journey.  some at your expense, again i'm sorry.  here are a few of the valuable lessons you taught me:
  • be always grateful
  • touch is an incredible healer
  • be tenacious
  • be honest
  • be open
  • be slow to anger
  • be quick to forgive
  • treat each adventure as your last
  • save the good times
  • learn from the bad and let them go
  • attitude is everything:  have a positive one
i know one day i will wake up and you will not be there waiting for our morning walk.  the thought of this pains me deeply.

i hope you enjoyed your time at the kennel as much as they seemed to enjoy having you there.  every time i left you there a little piece of me died.  every time i picked you up there and you would run in circles like a crazed pup slipping all over the place, that piece of me was resuscitated. 

i hope you enjoyed our time in Colorado and the little bit of additional freedom it offers.
i hope you enjoyed our walks as much as i did
i hope to live as you do:  embracing the positive
i hope to learn patience as much as you have

"when you are Real you don't mind being hurt"

and a trip through our photographic history: